Excuses? Not in this town.
If the Nets don’t make significant strides this season, no one–not team owner Mikhail Prokhorov, the fans nor the media–will be giving Brooklyn’s new darlings a pass. Nets GM Billy King has put in too much work and has put together too strong a roster for this team to experience anything but a long playoff run.
It might take a little time for the squad to get on the same page, but winning 50-plus games is well within reach. People forget the Miami Heat were 13-7 after their first 20 games of the 2010-2011 season.
“I don’t have a crystal ball in terms of the first game we’re going to max out as a basketball team or the third week of the season,” said Nets coach Avery Johnson. “I think different teams take different amounts of time.”
So how strong is this team? Deron Williams and Joe Johnson should form one of the league’s top backcourts. Forwards Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries are solid on the boards and defensively, while big man Brook Lopez is hoping to return to his 19-point, eight-rebound form of two years ago. In short, this Nets team has the potential to make a run to the Eastern Conference title.
“I’m really excited about this year and I’m really excited about the team Billy put together,” said Williams. “I think we have a chance to do some special things this year.”
Getting a roster with nine new players in sync won’t be easy, and Williams realized that early in the offseason and organized a few offseason informal workouts.
“I just wanted to get everyone in kind of early. We have a relatively new team,” said Williams. “I think it was good to get in and get to know everybody.”
But can the Nets come together in time to take over as New York City’s favorite basketball team? We’ll find out tonight, as the Nets host the Knicks in the season opener for both squads at the Barlcays Center.